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the world number one in the lead up to the Australian Open, the
« on: January 06, 2015, 05:34:35 PM »
Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during his match against Michael Berrer of Germany at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha yesterday. RIGHT: Michael Berrer of Germany punches the air after winning the match point during a first-round match against Rafael Nadal of Spain at Magista Obra Soccer Cleats the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha yesterday. PICTURES: Di Maria jersey SALIM MATRAMKOT

DOHA: German qualifier Michael Berrer yesterday stunned second seed and crowd favourite Rafael Nadal in three scintillating sets after world number one Novak Djokovic of Serbia sailed into round two of the $1.2m Qatar ExxonMobil Open with an easy win.

Berrer, 34, produced the tennis of his life to upset the defending champion 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 1 hour and 56 minutes and become one of three qualifiers to reach round two in Doha.

A long return from Nadal on match point in game 10 of the deciding set gave Berrer, playing his final season on the ATP Tour, his first win over a top-five player.

Prior to yesterday’s match, Nadal had never lost before Nike Elastico Superfly TF the quarter-final stage in Doha.

“It’s really unbelievable,” Berrer said after his exhausting match on Centre Court. “It (attacking against Nadal) was the only chance I had,” the father of two said.

“1-6 (in the first set) felt like the other matches I’ve had against him. It is my last season. I am going for it. I have nothing to lose,” he said.

“What I learned from studies in sports psychology is that I should try to avoid thinking about those things (distractions),” Berrer said when reminded that he was supported by close friends and players.

“I know that (fellow German) Dustin Brown was watching the match. That was great honour and support. I think this win will stay in my memory but to be honest Rafa is coming off after many months.

“For me, it’s just crazy,” the German, who fired six aces, said.

A disappointed Nadal said: “I think I played a great first set, a lot of winners with my forehand, no mistakes. But at the end I had a bad game in the third and fourth games of the second set. He broke me. After that everything changed. He played well. I was playing with more nerves than usual.”

Earlier, Djokovic produced slick tennis to crush compatriot Dusan Lajovic to reach the second round.

Djokovic, playing in Doha for the first time, won 6-2, 6-1 in less than an hour.

The 27-year-old was barely troubled as he took the first set in just 30 minutes after breaking his compatriot in games two, four and six.

Dusan broke Djokovic in game seven but the 2014 Wimbledon champion was hardly stretched in the first set.

In the second set, Djokovic upped the ante as he broke Dusan in games two and four to seal his win in less than an hour. A long return by Dusan saw Djokovic kick-off his Doha campaign with a win.

The Serb, playing his first ATP Tour event in Doha, declared himself fit for the rest of the tournament.

“I feel really good. I feel better than I was when I came here,” the affable world number one said yesterday after his win.

“A few days ago I wasn’t sure if James jersey I would be able to play in this tournament. But I am really glad I came here. It is my first time and I managed to get on court and play some good tennis. Thank you to the fans for coming and supporting tennis,” he said to loud cheers from the fans at Centre Court.

Berrer, the 34-year-old Stuttgart native, qualified for the main draw after winning three matches, two from a set down, including the final round against countryman Matthias Bachinger 6-7, 6-0, 6-3.

A slow start against Nadal yesterday also hinted at an early finish as the Spaniard broke Berrer in games two and four to complete the first set in 32 minutes.

However, Berrer picked up his game, producing good first serves to break Nadal in game four to take the second set at 6-3. In the deciding set, Berrer broke an error-prone Nadal in game one and then held his serve to take a 2-0 lead.

The 34-year-old, after a few long rallies from the baseline, managed to hold his serves until game 10 and take the third set at 6-4.

Also yesterday, third seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic beat Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-1, 6-4 in 62 minutes to advance to the second round.

In another clash, qualifier Blaz Kavcic of Slovakia stunned Juan Monaco of Argentina, winning their first-round clash 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 in 1 hour 53 minutes.

There was disappointment for home fans when Jabor Mohammed Ali Mutawa of Qatar went down to Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine. Stakhovsky won 6-1, 6-1.

Stakhovsky will now meet the world number one and top seed Djokovic in round two today.

In another upset at the season’s first event, Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny was beaten by qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia. Basilashvili won 7-5, 6-2 in 1 hour and 17 minutes.

Fifth seed Philipp Kohlscreiber of Germany went down to compatriot Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-1 while Brazil’s Joao Souza beat Malek Jaziri 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The winner in Doha becomes the world number one in the lead up to the Australian Open, the season’s first Grand Slam set to be held later this month.


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